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This Photo Wants to be a Poem is a low pressure, quick writing prompt I post each week. Consider joining in the playful poetry today. Leave a comment with 15 words or less structured as a poem. Write encouraging comments on other responses. That’s it. No judgement. Just be present.

Speaking of being present, a group of poet dabblers are writing a poem of presence each day of May on Twitter using the hashtag #PoemsofPresence. This grew out of my Ditty of the Month interview. You can also write a poem of presence on the padlet that Michelle is curating.

Today’s photo was taken last week when we were out on a family walk with Leo, who is 17 months today. He is learning about mischief, and he took Baby Thomas’s hat from his stroller and put it on and ran. It was all such a fun game. I was lucky to capture this shot in the multitude of photos I took.

Catch me if you can!
photo by Margaret Simon

Let me run
in the sun.
Hat askew,
can’t catch you.

Margaret Simon, draft
Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

On Friday, Michelle Heindrich Barnes lovingly posted an interview with me over at Today’s Little Ditty. With her Reader’s Spotlights, she asks us to prompt a writing challenge. I wrote this challenge:

The practice of writing poetry is an exercise in mindfulness. To be open to the universe of words and to put them down on a page is nothing short of a miracle.  Mary Oliver said, “There is no nothingness—With these little atoms that run around too little for us to see. But, put together, they make something. And that to me is a miracle. Where it came from, I don’t know. But it’s a miracle, and I think it’s enough to keep a person afloat.”

Write a mindful poem about the present moment.

To my pleasant surprise, Heidi Mordhorst and Mary Lee Hahn created a Twitter hashtag #PoemsofPresence to invite poets to write a small poem every day in May. The idea has gathered some following. Michelle created a graphic.

Please consider joining us on Twitter this month, writing a daily “in-the-moment” poem. https://twitter.com/hashtag/PoemsofPresence

The last of my monarch chrysalises emerged. Last week, I successfully released 7 new monarchs into the sky. My friend and neighbor, who is also a teacher and a photographer, asked to come over to photograph a release. Here’s one of her amazing photos.

Photo by Lory Landry

Monarch Release

Fly, friend, fly!
while I walk and walk
watching your wings
glow like the sunset.

Margaret Simon, draft
https://elizabethsteinglass.com/blog/
Poetry Friday round-up is with Liz Steinglass.

We made it to May 1st, and I’m pleased to announce the Progressive Poem has reached a celebratory ending. Thanks to all the poets who participated and took their turns without any prodding or reminding from me. My job as coordinator this year was made easy because we are a community that works ( and plays) well together. See the completed poem here.

This month my Poetry Swaggers group is sharing epistolary poems. I have to admit that when Molly Hogan suggested this form, I didn’t know what it was. Basically this is a letter poem with a fancy name. My poem is written to my notebook, a constant companion these days.

My notebook

Dear Notebook,

From the time I was a teenager
with a diary that locked,
I’ve written word by word.
Some days the pen scribbles nonsense
or a secret I will not share.
Other days, the blank page
inspires–my words play on your stage.

Whether you are lined or graphed or solid white,
I love the magic of empty pages
filling you with scrolled loops
and curved letters.
When I hold you near, I smell
the scent of flair pens,
washi tape, glue stick– a writer’s incense.

I can be whoever I want to be
in my own little corner
in my own little notebook. 

Margaret Simon, draft

To see more epistolary poems, visit these Swaggers’ sites:

Heidi Mordhorst–My Juicy Little Universe
Catherine Flynn–Reading to the Core
Molly Hogan–Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell–A Word Edgewise

In other news, I am the Reader’s Spotlight over at Michelle Barnes’ site Today’s Little Ditty. Thanks, Michelle, for all you do to promote poets and encourage writers.

During this pandemic stay-at-home time, new symbols are emerging. One of them is the banana, a staple in many homes is now ripening into home cooked banana bread. Repurposing food is comforting. Creating a recipe from scratch gives you something to do, something wholesome to accomplish.

Today’s photo appeared on my Facebook feed. A friend and neighbor, Susan Edmunds posted a photo that captured a light beam coming through the window. She gave me permission to publish the photo this week as a poetry muse.

Bananas by Susan Hester Edmunds

A glow of light
nourishes, comforts,
sustains health
and hope.

Margaret Simon, draft

Write your own small poem in the comments. Please comment to a few other poets.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Even before we were sheltering in our homes, I enjoyed making connections over cyberspace. Teacher-poet-writer Fran Haley is one of those connections. We read each other. Yesterday she wrote a beautiful blog post “Ode to the Wind.” In that post she wrote about a tweet from Robert MacFarlane with the word of the day: susurrate.

Word of the day: “susurrate”—to whisper, murmur, esp. of noise produced by numerous individual sources of sound (bees humming, leaves rustling, etc.) Compare to “psithurism,” its similarly sibilant sense-sibling, meaning the whispering of wind in trees (from Ancient Greek).

Susurrate was a new word to me when I read MacFarlane’s most amazing, beautiful book the lost words: A Spell Book. A friend who knows I love words and poetry loaned it to me. I presented the first few poems to my students. The last stanza of the second poem “adder” reads:

Rustle of grass, sudden susurrus, what
the eye misses:
For adder is as adder hisses.

Robert MacFarlane, the lost words

Reading Fran’s post, I remembered that I had written a definito to the word. The definito is a form created by my friend, teacher-poet Heidi Mordhorst. “The definito is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common, often abstract word, which always ends the poem.

I love this form for working with the meaning of a new word in a way that helps someone else understand the word.

As murmur is to whisper
a mutter to a babble
When grumbles turn to mumbles
and a purr softens sound
As whisper is to wind
a sigh of the weather
As a hum is to a hummingbird
flying quickly to a flower
You may hear something
close to silence…susurration. 

Photo by Philippe Donn from Pexels

The Progressive Poem is coming to the end. Today Donna Smith is hosting Jessica Bigi’s contribution.

Poetry Friday round-up is with Christie at Wondering and Wandering

On Tuesday evening I participated in a free webinar from Highlights with Lesléa Newman called “Poetry to Soothe the Soul”. During the presentation, I realized I had picked up one of her books at NCTE last fall, October Mourning. I went on a search for it and found it and have been reading. It’s a verse novel about the killing of Matthew Shephard. Her use of short form and repetition is affective in that book.

The Patrol Officer’s Report

two thin white tear tracks
one red swollen blood-caked face
this is someone’s child

Lesléa Newman, October Mourning

With us, she shared her own Pandemic Haiku. Her homework assignment was to write our own. I had written a haiku a few weeks ago and sent in a soundbite of me reading it to Alan Nakagawa’s sound collage commissioned by OCMA, Social Distance, Haiku, and You! This week I received a link to all the creative sound recordings. They had more than 500 entries. My haiku is included in Part B. Posted here if you choose to listen.

Heartbroken world mourns
Loss of who we were before
Waiting for new life
-Margaret Simon

On Wednesday, I collected moments throughout my day in haiku. Here is my collection:

Pandemic Haiku

In a viral time,
let us be grateful for this:
Breath. Green. Life.

Early morning sun
slant of light through cypress shades
welcoming hummers

Walks with Leo
are a wander, meander
See dat, dat, and dat? 

Chalk art on sidewalks
greet passersby with colors
“This too shall pass!”

A new duck tenant
three eggs today lay
in the wood duck house.

Seven green-gold charms
chrysalis-haven for wings
to magically form.

Watching my screen
I see Chloe, Rylee, you
in your own kitchen. 

Don’t know what will be
when the viral storm calms down
I hope for a hug. 

Margaret Simon, draft 4/22/20
Message in sidewalk chalk

Welcome back to This Photo…a low stakes writing prompt. Don’t think too long and hard about this. Whatever comes is good. Leave a small poem of 15 words or so in the comments. Read other poems and leave a supportive comment. That’s it. Poetry brain practice!

Clouds by Jone MacCulloch
Wispy clouds by Margaret Simon

I love to notice clouds. Cloud photos never quite come out as well as what you truly see. What can you imagine in the clouds? Look up. Just notice. Take a moment to be present.

Cloud goddess
flies her kite,
a ballet dance
on Spring’s serene
sky-stage.

Margaret Simon, draft

Check in on the Kidlit Progressive Poem that is going on an adventure today to Haiti with Ruth.